Dear March 13, 2020,
I really can’t believe the one year anniversary is coming up of the dreaded day that would become the start of the pandemic. I remember it clearly, my 20th birthday, getting breakfast at the dining hall with a few of my friends, EXCITED for what we all thought would be a 2 week spring break. Ha, little did we know. I was excited to go home to see family, a few home friends, and to just relax. Safety precautions were being taken, but that was the last time the word truly felt “normal.”
That 2 week spring break obviously got extended, and would turn into some of the most transformative months of my life.
I was forced to put things into perspective, reevaluate relationships that were no longer serving me, and live at home again, which I soon began to realize was one of the biggest privileges of them all. I barely saw my friends, and when I did it was a good time hanging around a campfire and reminiscing about the good old high school days. I walked more miles with my mom and neighbors than I probably have in my entire life. With nothing to do, getting through everyday started becoming a routine in itself.
April was full of sadness and uncontrollable circumstances due to the pandemic. So. Many. People. Could. Be. Alive. Today. If we had handled the pandemic correctly in the first place. A lot came spiraling down in the month of April, which ultimately gave me no other choice but to get up and stop dwelling on what could have been.
Then came May, and a little brown long nose cutie joined the Girshik fam and brought some excitement into our lives. We had been anticipating his arrival for what felt like months. While having the sharpest little shark teeth, this little man was just the light we needed. He gave us a reason to get up (6am potty time!!!), a true test of patience, and a whole lot of love.
After that was pretty much summer, and while it wasn’t normal, the warmth from the sun and hot weather kept our energy high, and my internship kept me busy during the week! My friends’ pool got put in so we spent a lot of time there, in the woods hiking, or spending time with Seven (my puppy BTW). I spent a lot of time learning about the injustice going on the world, and am continuing to do my best to keep learning.
Life ahead of us seemed so uncertain, but then came lease signing in the college town I missed so much and we just made the best of it.
Move-in came in August and I couldn’t believe I would be spending my junior year taking only online classes. But life happens. Moving in was tough, because as much as I was ready to get back to school – it wouldn’t be the same UMass I knew and loved. Leaving home was another part that was hard to come to terms with, I grew closer with my family (no closer than 6ft apart with my grandparents), and it was an eerie feeling that is hard to explain. I needed my family, and they needed me (I know you’d never admit it Ariel). Facetime became, and still is what keeps me from getting overly home sick, and of course the daily pictures of Seven.
My roommates and I grew closer, tried new recipes, went for sunset walks, found everything and anything there was to do in Amherst, and did what we could, while still making responsible COVID-19 decisions. The election passed, which snowballed into a few nights on the couch anxiously waiting for states to get their votes in to be projected onto the TV. And before we knew it classes were over and it was time to set the heat as low as our landlord allowed and go back home for winter break.
Winter break was awesome, relaxing, and full of family time; that I was missing so much. It’s hard for me to explain the feeling of two different places pulling me in two different directions. I love being at school and it has become my new normal, but home will always have my heart.
And now we are here, a month into the semester, coming up a year into the pandemic. My 21st birthday is coming up, not how I thought I would spend it, but definitely surrounded by the people I cherish most in my life, and I have come to realize that they are the most important thing in my life. And maybe that is just how it should be, and always should have been.
So thank you, March 13th 2020, for starting a year of putting what is most important in front of me, and giving me no reason to not invest everything I have into that. Relationships with your family, friends, partners, dogs, etc, are what stick. While this year has brought so much hurt to so many, it has also made everyone slow the fuck down and rebalance. A break we all didn’t know we needed. I sure didn’t.
With that being said…
Wear a mask, get vaccinated the second you are eligible, and before you know it, we will be a year out from this moment, with experiences we never thought we would have, people we’ve never met, and a whole lot of memories that are to be made. I’m ready for you 21…
With love and thanks,